If you love trying your voice at other languages, you can't be dragged away from the aisles of import stores, and you live to travel, then exporting could be the business for you. And it's big business. In one recent year, American companies exported $349 billion in merchandise to 226 foreign countries. Everything from beverages to commodes--and a staggering list of other products you might never imagine as global merchandise--are fair game for the savvy trader and are bought, sold, represented, and distributed somewhere in the world on a daily basis. As an exporter, you'll act as a middleperson, selling various domestic goods for American manufacturers or producers to foreign buyers. You might deal with a customer in Turkey one week and another in Guatemala, the next. Acting on behalf of a manufacturer is the least expensive route to take, but you can also purchase products to resell or import goods from foreign shores to sell on your home turf. The advantages to this business are that you're always doing something different, you meet lots of fascinating people and you get to travel to your heart's content. And one of the really exciting aspects of the export business is that most American manufacturers have no idea they can expand their trade exponentially by exporting. Once you show them the light, the possibilities are limitless. You'll need a good working knowledge of letters of credit and other foreign payment policies, as well as an understanding of shipping terms and methods. You'll also need strong sales and marketing skills--you'll have to convince manufacturers to let you sell their products and then persuade buyers to purchase them. Good organizational and time-management skills are also a must.
Your customers can be producers or manufacturers of any domestic goods you care to target. It's best to start in an industry you're already experienced in--if you know the grocery field, for instance, you might start by selling upscale convenience foods to French grocery distributors. You'll work a two-step process here. First, once you've targeted your market, you'll need to convince manufacturers to let you sell their products. Send letters describing your services and the rewards of exporting, then follow up with phone calls requesting appointments. After you contract with these people, go on to your second step, selling the goods abroad. Send letters to sales reps or distributors, explaining your products and requesting an appointment to meet or talk by phone. You can also place ads for your products on any of the plethora of free or fee-based Websites that feature trade leads, which are import/export classified advertisements.
All you need to get up and running are a computer system, a laser printer and a fax machine.